Caring Community on a Fixed Income
A recent article in the New York Times highlighted the impact of the current economic difficulties on the elderly, especially those who are on fixed incomes and frail. The article reminded me of ways that our congregations can enhance their mission of being a “caring community” (with no or little cost to the congregation).
- Create a small corps of volunteers who would be willing (on rotating basis) to do shopping for people who cannot get out due to illness, fragility, weather (not all may be frail elderly.) Too many older adults skimp on their own food. Such a corps can do a major mitzvah and help foster relationships.
- Create an “ombudsperson” to work with clergy and with families who need to de-code the mysteries of insurance forms and Medicare eligibility. This person or persons can also become a “patient advocate”, working with families and individuals to help negotiate the challenging aspects of illness, recovery and the benefits that may be available. Why not have this available to our own members on referral from the clergy? Where to find such a person? Look at the untapped “spiritual capital” within your own congregation. Retired or semi-retired social workers, business people etc., who have done human service work for decades and who often remain under-utilized in our congregations.
- With difficult economic times, people may be forced to quietly make decision between food and medicines. Why not look at developing a congregation health worker/nurse whose job it would be to do home visits and assessments and make sure that people are not putting themselves in jeopardy?